As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Head of Zeus, 9 December 2013.
These days, Scandinavian authors are to crime fiction what fish is to
chips. They are ubiquitous, well put together and satisfying. Somehow, it just
feels right that such dark material emanates from a region where, for at least
one month per year, the residents experience permanent night. Surrounded by the
interminable black sky, the mysterious noises and the power of the imagination,
how could anyone fail to create something horrifying?
Scandinavian crime fiction, despite gaining international acclaim only
recently, is nothing new. The region has a long history of crime fiction, as
John-Henri Holmberg painstakingly illustrates through this book.
anthology comprises seventeen short stories, never before published in English,
which are all written by Scandinavian authors. Although it seems like Holmberg
is on somewhat of a personal crusade to show the world the depth, breadth and
importance of Scandinavia's contribution to
crime fiction, his passion for the subject comes across as charming rather than
bizarre - sort of like people who host Eurovision Song Contest parties. I
certainly can't fault a man for loving his peers' work and wanting to show it
off so that others may do so too.
is a personal friend of perhaps the most famous Scandinavian crime author of
them all: Stieg Larsson. It is, then, no surprise that the collection includes
an offering by Larsson, the man behind Lisbeth Salander and the Millennium
this is no bog standard collection whodunnits. Each short story stands alone as
a complete and valid narrative that inspires awe of the skill displayed to
produce a story so gripping and resonant in so few words. Particularly
fascinating is the way that each author approached the challenge. Did you know
that the young Larsson had a fascination with science fiction? As a
result, his contribution is reminiscent of Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury and
totally different to the Millennium Trilogy.
other authors deserve a special mention as well, in my opinion:
Ohrlund challenges our preconceptions about presumptions of guilt through
cultural association when a Muslim teenager is found dead and her father is
suspected of an honour killing. Racism abounds among official circles and the
concept of guilt becomes complicated.
Montelius echoes Shakespearean philosophy about a woman scorned when a husband
is caught being unfaithful and murder ensues. In a clever twist, he shows that
the female of the species really is more deadly than the male.
addition to the excellent story-telling, what really makes this anthology stand
out is the fact that Holmberg includes a detailed description of the authors'
backgrounds in individualised preambles before each short story. Providing this
context helps to frame the work and underpins the editor's objective of
highlighting the scope of Scandinavian crime fiction.
is a perfect introduction to Scandinavian crime fiction for anyone who has
heard about it but felt intimidated by it, and also acts as a perfect
complement for readers who are already fans of the genre and want to fill some
gaps in their knowledge.
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh
John-Henri Holmberg is the Edgar Award nominated co-author of The
Tattooed Girl, about the Millennium novels and their author Stieg Larsson, who
was a personal friend. He is a full-time writer, translator and editor, living
with his family on the southern coast of Sweden
Joanna Leigh studied French and German at university. She works in
the aerospace industry and is a chartered marketer in the UK. She describes herself as a
voracious reader, enjoying genres as varied as crime thrillers, historical fiction
and autobiographies. Joanna lives in London.
She is the daughter of crime thriller writer Leigh Russell.